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in terms of blended modesty, good sense, and humor.
During the last twenty years of his life Whittier published the following volumes : Home Ballads and Poems, 1860; In War Time and Other Poems, 1864; National Lyrics, 1865; Snow-Bound, 1866; The Tent on the Beach and Other Poems, 1867; Among the Hills and Other Poems, 1869; Ballads of New England, 1870; Miriam and Other Poems, 1871; The Pennsylvania Pilgrim and Other Poems, 1872; Mabel Martin, 1874; Hazel-Blossoms, 1875; The Vision of Ecbard and Other Poems, 1878; The King's Missive and Other Poems, 1881; The Bay of Seven Islands and Other Poems, 1883 ; Saint Gregory's Guest and Recent Poems, 1886; At Sundown, 1892.
The honors accorded him on his seventieth, eightieth, and eighty-fourth anniversaries gave Whittier much happiness. He was especially pleased to learn that the bells of St. Boniface, in Winnipeg, Manitoba (celebrated in his 'Red River 'Voyageur '), were rung for him at midnight of December 17, 1891. Said the poet in his letter to Archbishop Tâché: 'Such a delicate and beautiful 'tribute has deeply moved me. I shall never for
Nothing was left undone that the tenderest love and wisest solicitude could do for his comfort. His last illness was brief. He died at Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, on September 7, 1892.
Whittier's shyness was proverbial. Those who knew him also knew that beneath that shyness was a masterful spirit. Evasion and inconclusiveness on the part of those with whom he dealt would not avail. Whittier wanted to know where public men stood and for what they stood. A politician himself, he understood the art of dealing with politicians. To a certain candidate he said: "Thee 'cannot expect the votes of our people unless thee 'speak more plainly.' Being in great need of the votes of our people,' the candidate was compelled to speak at once and to use the words Whittier
put into his mouth.
Another possessed of like skill in controlling men might have grown despotic. Not so Whittier. Tactful and conciliatory, no grain of selfishness was to be found in his composition. He worked for the cause alone.
His physical courage, of which there are abundant illustrations, was fully equal to his moral courage. The nerve required to face a disciplined enemy, as in war, is always admirable; one would not wish to underestimate it. But it is a type courage not difficult to comprehend. A glamour hangs about the battlefield. Men are carried on by
the esprit de corps. They do wonders and marvel at their own courage afterwards. Facing a mob is another matter. A mob is an assassin; the last thing it wants is fair play. Whittier had no experiences like those to which Bailey and Garrison were subjected, but he had enough to try his mettle.
He was one of the most modest of men, holding his achievements, literary and otherwise, at far lower estimate than did the public. To an anxious inquirer Whittier said that he did not think ‘Maud 'Muller' worth serious analysis. He asked for criticism on his verses, and was not slow to act upon it when given. His open-mindedness is shown in the way he accepted Lowell's suggestion about the refrain of 'Skipper Ireson's Ride.' He defended himself when the criticism touched his motives or impugned his love of truth. Charged with having boasted that his story of Barbara Frietchie'would live until it got beyond reach of correction, Whittier replied: Those who know me will bear 'witness that I am not in the habit of boasting of 'anything whatever, least of all of congratulating 'myself upon a doubtful statement outliving the 'possibility of correction. . . . I have no pride of `authorship to interfere with my allegiance to truth.'
He was a stanch friend, and a helpful neighbor. His filial piety was deep — no trait of his character was more pronounced. He was the most devoted of sons, the best of brothers. The seriousness of Whittier's temper and mind
was relieved by a keen sense of humor which found expression in many engaging ways. His letters written in young manhood are at times almost boisterously mirthful. His humor grew subdued as he became older, but it never lost its charm. Those who were nearest him realized how much it contributed to making him the most companionable of men.
THE LITERARY CRAFTSMAN
"I HAVE left one bad rhyme ... to preserve 'my well known character in that respect,' says Whittier in a letter to Fields, his publisher. The charge of laxity in rhymes was the one most often brought against him. He labored under two capital disadvantages; he was self-taught and he wrote
i always for a moral purpose. His objection to reprinting Mogg Megone grew out of the feeling, not that it was bad poetry, —
though he had no delusions about its artistic value, but that it was not calculated to do good. Ethics, rather than art, were uppermost in his thought. There has never been question of his native power. He could be exquisitely felicitous, but, having acquired the habit of writing for a cause, of sacrificing nicety of phrase for vigor of thought and rapidity of utterance, being eager always to strike a blow at the
critical moment, he found it difficult to write with a dominant artistic motive. He wrote better (technically speaking) the older he
It is difficult to realize as we listen to the rich strains of his later years that Whittier could have been as inharmonious as he often was in the first period of his poetic life. He confessed his defect. To Fields he once said: 'It's lucky that other folks' ears are not so sensitive as thine.'
His variety of metres, if not great, was sufficiently ample to preclude the feeling of sameness. His verse never comes laden with scholarly suggestion in rhythm or thought, with the faint sweet echoes of old-time poetry, as does Longfellow's. Whittier was not 'literary,' though he made a noble addition to the literature of his country.
Whittier's prose has been ignored rather than underestimated. It is clear and forceful, often impassioned, and sometimes eloquent. Whether a reputation could be based on it is another matter. Certainly it has not been accorded the popular favor it deserves. Among a thousand readers, for example, who know Snow-Bound there are possibly two or three who have read Margaret Smith's Journal.
Of the seven prose sketches in Legends of New England not one was thought by the author worth preserving. He also suppressed much of the contents of the two volumes published some fifteen years after the Legends. Both these later books, The Stranger in Lowell and The Supernaturalism of